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Ontario|Personal Injury / Lawsuits
466 How to start a lawsuit: Overview Although civil lawsuits vary from case to case, most follow a similar basic procedure. The complexity of the procedures that need to be followed and where your case will be heard, will depend largely on the amount of your claim.
- Suing for $10,000 or less: Small Claims CourtAs of April 2001, if you are claiming an amount of $10,000 or less, you can proceed with your claim in Small Claims Court. The benefits of using Small Claims Court are the low costs of filing and serving documents and that you can proceed relatively easily and quickly without having to be represented by a lawyer. However, you may want to consult a lawyer to ensure that you proceed in a timely fashion, that your documents are completed properly and that you have covered all of your legal points.
- Suing for between $10,000 and $25,000: Simplified ProcedureIf you are claiming an amount between $10,000 and $25,000, or you abandon the amount of the claim in excess of $25,000, you can follow the "Simplified Procedure" in the Superior Court of Justice. By reducing a number of time-consuming and expensive steps, such as pre-trial discoveries, this procedure is both less expensive and faster than a regular trial under regular procedures. Although the process is simplified, it is still too complicated for most people, and you will likely need the assistance of a lawyer.
- Suing for $25,000 or moreIf you are suing for more than $25,000, then your claim must be filed in the Superior Court of Justice. You will not be able to use the simplified procedure. If you are suing for over $25,000, the procedures and legal requirements of your case are more complicated and you will, therefore, require the assistance of a lawyer.
- General steps involved in a lawsuitA lawsuit, whether in Small Claims Court or in the Superior Court of Justice, will involve certain specific steps including: writing and filing a Statement of Claim, waiting for the other party to write and file a Statement of Defence, and contacting a lawyer for legal advice or assistance. You may also have to participate in mandatory mediation, or attend an examination for discovery or for pre-trial motions. In the majority of cases, lawsuits are settled before the formal trial begins.
In deciding whether to sue someone, you should be aware that the person you are suing is able to make a counter claim in your proceeding, asserting that in fact you caused harm or loss. If the counter claim is successful, you could end up not only losing your claim, but also paying the defendant's claim and their court costs. It is important to determine whether your claim is valid before you start a lawsuit. Otherwise, you could end up with a costly judgment against you.
A civil lawsuit often involves a number of complicated steps and procedures. Although in some cases it may be possible to proceed without a lawyer, it is a good idea to seek legal advice before getting started.